Munro and Nean v Minister for Planning and Moree Plains Shire Council - EDO NSW

Munro and Nean v Minister for Planning and Moree Plains Shire Council

October 2009

The Minister for Planning approved a rezoning application in Moree which was to amended the zoning of Taylor Oval from recreation to commercial uses to facilitate the building of a Big W department store on the site. Taylor Oval is the main rugby league and cricket ground in Moree and also a significant site for the local Aboriginal community who believe it is situated near a burial ground for the Gomeroi nation. Bodies of Aboriginal persons were excavated on the site in 1903. The site has also been important for reconciliation in the town as an area where both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people have mixed over the generations.

EDO NSW acted for two elders of the Moree Aboriginal community who challenged the rezoning. The case focused on whether the Planning Minister and Moree Council followed the correct procedure for rezoning land under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The Council conceded that they did not follow the correct procedure in exhibiting and approving the draft LEP and agreed to the orders to set aside their decisions. On 4 September 2009, by consent, Justice Lloyd declared that the decision of Moree Plains Shire Council on 8 November 2008 to forward the draft Moree Local Environment Plan 1995 (Amendment No. 17) was void and no effect. He also declared that the decision of the Minister for Planning on 2 January 2009 to approve the amendment to the Moree Local Environment Plan 1995 (Amendment No. 17) is void and of no effect.

Related proceedings are continuing in the Supreme Court against the Minister for Lands' decision to revoke the dedication of Taylor Oval for public purpose recreation.

On behalf of two Aboriginal clients who are elders of the Gomeroi Nation, EDO NSW is seeking a declaration that the decision by the Minister for Lands to notify the revocation of Crown Reserve at Taylor Oval is void, and related injunctions. The revocation of the dedication is an important step in allowing Lands to lease or otherwise deal with the land to enable the Big W development to proceed. The Minister is also contesting the right of the elders to bring the proceedings, as the challenge is based on the common law test of whether they are "a person aggrieved" by the decision. A hearing date was set for 26-27 November at the Supreme Court in Sydney.

On 26 April 2012, Big W announced that it will not be proceeding with the development of a store on Taylor Oval in Moree. The site is significant to the local Aboriginal community. EDO NSW has been representing local Aboriginal elders in Moree, including in a challenge to the rezoning designed to facilitate the building of the Big W store. Moree Murri Taskforce representative Uncle Lyall Munro, one of the elders represented by EDO NSW, has also welcomed Big W's decision not to proceed with the development on Taylor Oval.

More information about the concerns of the Aboriginal community can be found in an article written by EDO NSW's former Principal Solicitor Kirsty Ruddock in Eureka Street.